Red-Light Cameras Losing Support in Chicago Suburbs

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Illinois Traffic Laws on Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Once thought of as a device to improve safety on the roads, red light cameras are losing favor in many states and cities across the U.S., including some suburbs in the Chicago area. While nine states and a dozen cities around the U.S. have banned red light cameras, the city of Chicago itself has not yet joined this trend.

Installed to improve safety by reducing the number of drivers running red lights – and ultimately reduce the number of traffic accidents – the cameras have not always lived up to this goal. In some instances, if drivers slam on their breaks, for example, red light cameras can cause rear-end accidents at intersections.

Another major issue with red light cameras is that the procedural safeguards that are in place for other types of traffic violations don’t exist in red light camera cases. Because no human being observes the alleged violation, the driver has no accuser to confront. This is a potential constitutional violation.

Another problem is that, unlike humans, traffic cameras do not have the ability to use discretion. A police officer may take into account such things as weather or road conditions and decide that running the red light was justified. A traffic camera simply snaps the picture and generates a ticket regardless of circumstances.

Additionally, unlike when a police officer hands a written ticket to a citizen, traffic camera tickets are mailed, with no guarantee that the person the ticket is sent to ever receives it. It also may take days or even weeks after the photo is snapped until the person receives the ticket. In many cases, people may simply not remember the day in question or recall the reason if they did in fact commit the violation. Thus, the person accused also may lose potential defenses because of the slow procedure.

Red light cameras are not always right, and pictures don’t always tell the whole story. If you believe you have received a traffic ticket you didn’t deserve, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights.